The Toronto Raptors have quietly struggled since beginning the season 5-0. And unfortunately for Kyle Lowry and company, their mediocre play will now be tasked with performing while one of their best players is sidelined.
Valanciunas is expected to miss approximately six weeks, league sources said.
The 23-year-old suffered the injury to his fifth metatarsal during Toronto’s victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday. Valanciunas broke the same bone in his right hand during his rookie season and missed 18 games.
After signing a four-year, $64 million extension with the Raptors in August, the seven-footer has rewarded his team with arguably the most impactful two-way play of his career. Toronto is 13.4 points per 100 possessions better with him on the floor compared to the bench, the team’s second-highest mark and one owed mostly to his comfort as a post-up hub and steady improvement as a shooter and finisher.
Not many centers boast shot charts like this:
The much-needed defensive strides, though, have yet to materialize. Valanciunas is allowing opponents to shoot a hefty 57.5 percent at the rim, a bottom-five mark among regular big men. But he’s faring a bit better in pick-and-roll coverage this season compared to the past, which has allowed Dwane Casey to keep him on the floor during critical fourth quarter moments – something that didn’t occur in 2014-15.
Six weeks is a lot of time in the NBA. Until very recently, the Raptors seemed a shoo-in for home-court advantage come playoff time. But the team’s recent performance cast a bit of doubt on that assumption, and the absence of Valanciunas certainly magnifies it.
(Via Yahoo Sports)